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•]8 MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE
A certain feminine practical instinct has already guided
the English to abbreviate all their subordinate clauses as much
as possible, like "weather permitting/5 "God willing," "if
possible/' "whenever necessary/' "as expected/' "if I don't
(not shall not) come back to-night/' and "if war breaks out
(not shall break out) next week." Jespersen already mentions
such examples of Chinese simplicity in English as "first come,
first served/' "no cure, no pay," "once bitten, twice shy,"
which are all standard pidgin. They are beginning to drop
the "whom," too ("Who are you speaking to?"). English
grammar is therefore not far from salvation. The Chinese love
of simplicity is, however, far ahead, as in the expression "Sit
eat mountain empty" which to the Chinese clearly means
that "if you only sit and eat and do nothing, even a fortune as
big as a mountain will vanish." Therefore it will be some time
before the English can catch up with us.
The Chinese concrete way of thinking can also be illustrated
by the nature of its abstract terms and prevalence of proverbs
and metaphoric expressions. An abstract notion is often ex-
pressed by the combination of two concrete qualities, as "big-
small" for "size," "long-short" for "length," "broad-narrow"
for "breadth" ("What is the big-small of your shoes?"). "Long"
and "short" also refer to the right and wrong of parties in
dispute, as the Chinese expression is whether "one's argument
is long (or short)" and therefore we have expressions like "I
don't care for its long-short" (similar to the English "the long
and the short of it is. . . .") and "that man has no right-
wrong" meaning he is a good man because he preserves a
God-like indifference toward all questions, and does not get
involved in private disputes. Abstract endings like "-ness"
are also unknown in Chinese, and the Chinese simply say, with
Mencius, that "the white of a white horse is not the same as
the white of a white jade." This has a bearing on their lack oi
Women, so far as I know, avoid using abstract terms. This,
I think, has been proved by an analytical study of the vocab-
ulary of women authors. (The analytical, statistical methoc
is in itself a habit of the Western mind, for the Chinese has fai
too much common sense to go to the trouble of counting word